How to Play Piano: A Complete Guide

The thought of putting in countless hours to learn sheet music and chords turns off a lot of people who are keen on being pianists.
Putting those negative thoughts behind and beginning with an open mind are the first things you’re keen on learning how to play the piano.
Although there’s a lot of practice involved, learning to play on your own can actually be lots of fun. Just follow these steps, and you'll be playing your first solo in no time.

How to Play the Piano: Step-by-Step

People might think that learning the piano needs an instructor. Yet, you can be your own instructor by just following these basic steps.

Step 1: Get Your Hands on a Piano or Keyboard

In spite of what most people think, you don't need to own a piano to learn how to play it. So, the first step is to find yourself a piano or keyboard.
You may borrow a piano or keyboard from friends, family, school, or church if you don't have the money to buy one. Also, there are facilities and music shops where you can also rent an instrument for a day.
You can also buy your own instrument, but you have to set up a budget and decide how much you’re willing to spend.
Then, if you do decide to buy a keyboard, look for one with 88 keys. These models come as close as possible to sounding like a real piano.
Some beginner keyboards can even help you learn how to play the piano. They come with instructions or feature keys that light up as you play.
If you buy an acoustic piano, have it tuned by a professional. This way, you can ensure that each note sounds as it should to avoid confusion as you play. Tuning also prevents damage to the strings and preserves the integrity of the instrument.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself With The Keys

Any good piano teacher starts the piano lesson by teaching the basics of how to play the piano. So, it makes sense that this is where you should start if you’re teaching yourself how to play,
The first step in learning to play the piano is becoming accustomed to the keys. Start by playing the white keys and listen to the sounds they make.
Then, play the black keys, also called ‘accidentals.’ They make up the sharp and flat notes. Familiarize yourself with how they sound instead of the more neutral white keys.
After that, you have to learn the names of each note. There are eight notes in each octave: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B accordingly.
As for the accidentals, there are five types in all. They tell the player to play the note higher or lower than its original sound, adding depth and variety to the music.

Step 3: Practice the Scales

There’re a lot of simple exercises that can help you get started with basic finger strength and dexterity. Though, nothing beats good old scales.
Most students dislike playing the scales because they can get a bit confusing. Nevertheless, there's no doubt they're a great way to get your fingers used to the keys. The most straightforward scale to play is the C major scale.

Step 4: Learn to Read Sheet Music

Learning to read sheet music should be your primary focus when first learning to play the piano, and all other instruments as well. Once you know that, everything else becomes a bit easier.
First, learn the names of the left-hand and right-hand staff. The former is called ‘bass clef,’ while the latter is known as the ‘treble clef.’
Then, get to know the names of the different notes. There’s a fun mnemonic device that piano players use to help them recall the notations on the treble clef.
Of course, you can always make up your own, but the most common one is: "Every Good Boy Deserves Food" (E-G-B-D-F).
That said, reading sheet music is much more than just the notes on the page. You should also be able to follow the rhythm of the notes as they’re written on the paper and hear them play out in your head.
By doing that, you’ll be able to identify musical patterns and master chords. Then, as you gain more experience, you’ll be able to play more complex notes with ease and confidence.

Step 5: Make the Best of the Available Resources

Next, you'll need to find some reliable learning material. People are more inclined toward watching YouTube videos, but you can also use books, CDs, or DVDs.
Try to look for a piano course for beginner adults to help provide you with all the basics.
There are also video and online courses and resources available online. Some are free of charge but offer limited resources. Then, there are those that cost a monthly fee but come with unlimited access to tutorials, techniques, and learning material.

Step 6: Set a Goal for Practice

Rather than simply worrying about playing a whole piece, focus on practicing just 10 minutes each day. You can practice playing a couple of measures each day, then move on to playing an entire line.
Keep it up for a week. At the end of those seven days, you’ll notice that the notes you struggled with at the start of the week are now much easier to play.
A good idea is to add 10 minutes to your practice time each week. You’ll even amaze yourself at how much you can play by the end of the month!


Thanks to new technology and the numerous learning resources available, learning how to play the piano has never been easier.
It’s true that dreaming of becoming a concert pianist is a bit out of reach unless you’ve been practicing since you were a child. Yet, you can still have loads of fun playing along to your favorite tunes at parties and family get-togethers.
So, what are you waiting for? Go, find yourself a piano, and start practicing.